A few states, including Kaduna, Niger and Ogun, still continue to implement the lockdown measure as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope that the measure would play a significant role in slowing down the spread of the disease or flattening the curve of infection. If infected members of the public do not mix with one another, the governors and policy makers reason, the chain of infection would be broken.

In addition, they apparently counterintuitively imagine that the days of relaxing the lockdown would magically not aid the spread of the disease. It is not obvious why they think so, or what automatic decontamination process the states in question hope to trigger to counteract infection on the days of no restriction. Interstate movement remains banned, and a national curfew is still in place, but so far, the rate of infection has neither slowed down nor suggested to state officials that they are on the right track.

If intrastate lockdown is in place, and interstate movement is prohibited, and a national curfew is emplaced, but the rate of infection continues to climb, sometimes significantly, surely these facts should lend themselves to a re-examination of the prevailing quarantine paradigm as well as lead officials to be wary of the panoply of measures enacted to fight the global disease. Officials should be a step ahead of the disease, but they seem locked in a perpetual reaction mode to it; first, by failing to understand it, and second by applying the wrong and misguided anodyne when it rears its head or inflicts its pain. Indeed, scientists studying the disease have said it has a self-limiting logic, that at a point in its life cycle it will exhaust itself even without major or concerted countermeasures. So, even if at a point the disease is in remission, there is no proof that it is responding to the various panicky lockdowns concocted to fight it.

Many global health experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), have determined that the initial global response to the disease was needlessly panicky and poorly considered. Among the measures, they singled out lockdown as probably inadequate and indeed counterproductive. Nigerian health experts charged with the responsibility of reining in the disease have been slower in embracing a rethink of the anti-coronavirus disease measures. They seem eager to err on the side of caution by retaining measures the rest of the world are increasingly questioning. A few countries never implemented lockdown, and have not witnessed any unusual rise in the rate of infection or mortality. Their example has, however, not recommended itself to Nigeria and other countries still adamant about the lockdown measure’s presumed efficacy.

Global health experts working in tandem with leading economists have in fact concluded that the lockdown measure was a regrettable and counterproductive response to the disease. They do not deny the presence of the disease, nor its virulence, but they view some of the measures deployed to fight it, particularly the lockdown policy, as hurtful to the world economy, an economy that was already teetering on the brink of trouble, if not collapse. Locking down whole countries and regions, in their opinion, simply hastened the contradictions that were maturing in the world economic system. Today, millions of workers have been furloughed or completely laid off; thousands of businesses have shut down or filed for bankruptcy, oil prices have collapsed and are gasping upwards agonisingly at a slow pace, and the consequences to the psychological wellbeing of millions as well as their health have been staggering.

There is an emerging consensus, a very strong consensus, that the world reacted the wrong way to the pandemic. That consensus is not disguised. It is widely publicised, and the world has become gradually persuaded about that consensus. So, why have some Nigerian states not kept abreast of developments in the COVID-19 pandemic rampage and response? Only they can answer that poser. Even their lockdowns have been devoid of logic and consistency. Some impose the measure fitfully, hoping for the curve to flatten quickly. Others have problematically increased the number of days in which the measure is relaxed despite absence of proof that the measure never worked in the first instance.

More shockingly, at a time the country itself and, yes, the presidential panel set up to counter the disease have become persuaded about the wisdom of significantly easing restrictions to nothing more than night curfew, at a time when they are contemplating re-opening schools, airports and places of worship under certain guidelines, and are in the process of reflating the economy and seeking ways to expand job opportunities, a few states have kept stubbornly to lockdowns.

If it is of any help to those adamant states, they should know that federal authorities and the rest of the world are engaged in finding the best ways to reopen their societies and economies. Everyone is now persuaded that lockdown was a panicky measure to adopt. It never even worked partially, at least not anything like observing physical distancing measure, frequently using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, wearing face masks, limiting social interactions, and congregating in worship centres in huge numbers. If the lockdown states in Nigeria are unconvinced about the wastefulness of their lockdown measure, they should wait until they take a good look at their finances in the weeks ahead.


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